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Visit Malta: Top 20 Things to Do Before You Die – 2018

What to do in Malta?

You have decided to visit Malta. Excellent choice!

This small Mediterranean country where life is good all year round is full of places of interest to discover for the traveler looking for a change of scenery.

In order to help you organize your tour in Malta, we have prepared a guide to things to do and see in Malta, but also in Gozo and Comino, the 2 smaller islands that make up this country.

So on the way!

Visit Malta: The essentials

1. Valletta

We start our list of the must-see tours of Malta by its capital, Valletta. A walk in this beautiful city will allow you to discover a beautiful architecture, historical monuments and magnificent views of the surrounding cities and the sea.

To visit absolutely in Valletta during your stay:

The co-cathedral Saint Jean, which behind a sober exterior facade conceals an extraordinary wealth inside. Everywhere gold and beautiful paintings signed Caravaggio. The marble slabs that make up the pavement are home to the tombs of the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta as well as the nobles. Nearly 400 of them are buried there. A must see in Malta!

The palace of the Grand Masters who was once their residence. To see in particular for the council hall and the ambassadors’ lounge. But what remains most impressive is still the armory and its collection of more than 5,000 pieces of armor and weapons worn and used by knights and grandmasters.

The Manoel Theater, one of the oldest in Europe.

Fort Saint Elme inside which is the National War Museum.

The National Museum of Fine Arts which houses a collection of objects, sculptures and paintings that belonged to the Order of St. John.

The barraka gardens, 2 gardens also called barraka top and barraka bottom. The lower one is quite small but worth it for its very photogenic temple.

The one above is the largest with its pretty colonnades and the magnificent view it offers on the 3 cities. Below you can see the battery of salvation, a set of canons formerly used to greet foreign ships and still resonate with their blows every day at noon.

And finally, wander down the streets of Republic Street and Merchant Street, the main commercial arteries of Valletta where you will find many shops and restaurants.

If you are driving to Valletta by car, park your car on the MCP car park right at the entrance of the city. The price is more than adequate, we paid 6 euros for 7 hours and it is very well located. Only 5 minutes walk to the center of Valletta.

If you would like more information on visiting Valletta and an example of an itinerary, you can read our article: What to do in Valletta?

 

Valletta

2. The 3 cities

From Valletta, you can easily reach the Three Cities which are located directly opposite. From the top Barraka gardens, take the panoramic lift (always free for the descent and for the ascent it will also be free if you come back from the boat for the 3 cities). Cross the street and continue on the left to get to the boat dock.

The ticket is bought once inside the boat and a round trip costs € 2.8 per person for 10 minutes.

The boat will drop you on the quays of the city ​​of Vittoriosa, the largest city of the 3 Cities. The other 2 cities are respectively Senglea and Cospicua. They have all 3 their specificities but have one thing in common: the panoramas they offer on Valletta. The best way to discover them is to walk around the small streets!

  • In Vittoriosa, do not miss Fort St. Angelo , the Inquisitor’s Palace and the Maritime Museum.
  • In Senglea, go to the tip of the city, to the Safe Haven Garden, one of the most beautiful views of Valletta.
The three cities seen from Valletta

3. Mdina

Mdina is the ancient capital of Malta. During the medieval period and before the arrival of the Knights of the Order, it served as headquarters to the administration and the government. It was nicknamed “Citta Notabile”, the noble city. But when they arrived, the knights felt that they would be better placed near their ships and Valletta then took his place as capital.

Nicknamed the “Silent City”, this fortified city owes its charm to the calm that reigns in the maze of its narrow streets. Mdina is made up of many historic buildings and monuments such as St. Paul’s Cathedral(the oldest cathedral of Malta), the museum, the Vilhena Palace of the 18 th century and other palaces located in Villegaignon Street as the Palace Falson .

After visiting the city, you can go walking in the old moat of the city now converted into gardens. You can discover the ramparts from below and it will be even more impressive.

We went to Mdina early in the morning and we did well because from 10am busloads of tourists pour into the streets. As much as you say that if you can, try to be the 9h30 maximum. Or at the end of the day.
The walled city of Mdina

4. Rabat

Rabat, to visit also during a circuit in Malta, is the neighboring city of Mdina. Once out of the fortified city of Mdina, you enter directly into Rabat.

To see in Rabat:

  • The church and the grotto of Saint Paul which served as a refuge for the apostle during his sinking on the island
  • The catacombs of Saint Paul who served as necropolis for 500 years
  • The catacombs Sainte-Agathe where Sainte-Agathe, hid during his exile from Sicily
  • Domus Romana, a villa from Roman times today converted into a museum
A street of Rabat

5. Sliema and St Julian

Sliema and St Julian are the two main tourist cities of Malta. This is where you will find a multitude of hotels, restaurants, shops and nightclubs. Perfect cities for those wishing to go out at night, like popular and lively places, a little less if you are the type to prefer calm.

You can eat on one of the many terraces overlooking the sea and enjoy a unique view of Valletta.

Also worth noting is a lovely seaside promenade in Sliema which also passes through St Julian’s, probably the most populated area of ​​the island especially during summer evenings.

Sliema Bay

6. Marsaxlokk

On Sundays, there is a must-see if you are on the island of Malta, Marsaxlokk fish market.

This authentic fishing port with its colorful boats called luzzi, is very typical and organizes a weekly market every Sunday. The market is presented as a fish market but you will soon realize that there are actually many more stalls selling souvenirs than fish.

The market is really huge and crowded but you can do good business there. This is the perfect place to buy your souvenirs that will cost you less than in Valletta for example. The French are not mistaken, we have never heard as much French as that day!

Along the harbor, there are also many bars and restaurants, ideal for the lunch break. The dishes are mainly fish-based but you can also find pizzas and sandwiches. The prices are very correct.

If you come to Marsaxlokk on the day of the car market, do not venture to the port. The streets are often one way, which can lead you round a little round and you will not have any room anyway. Stay on the high streets and walk down.
Colorful boats from the port of Marsaxlokk

7. St Peter’s Pool

Not far from Marsaxlokk is another famous place on the island of Malta, St Peter’s Pool .

This natural pool dug by erosion is a popular place for swimming.

Note that the population that comes to bathe there is rather young because it is above all to prove that one has the courage to jump from the top of the rocks and not to swim really. Access to the sea is only by ladders or jumping. I specify that there is very little shade to shelter from the sun. Not necessarily a place that we recommend with young children.

On the other hand, if you continue walking on the right after St Peter’s Pool, you will come to a flatter stretch of rock with natural jacuzzis carved into the rock. You can enjoy it for a dip.

To reach St Peter’s Pool from Marsaxlokk, count 10 minutes by car. The road is well signposted and you will find 2 free car parks to park.

St Peter’s Pool

8. Mosta

Mosta is mainly famous in Malta for its monumental church whose design is inspired by the Pantheon of Rome. It was built from 1833 thanks to the funds collected by the inhabitants. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Malta.

Its large dome would be one of the largest in Europe but the subject is controversial, whether the dome would be in third or fourth position. You will see it from many places on the island of Malta.

But what is also the reputation of this church, it is the event which occurred there in 1942. A German bomb of the second world war of 450 kilos pierced the dome and fell in the church in full mass without explode! Widely what attributed this to a miracle.

Cathedral of Mosta

9. Blue Grotto

At 2 kilometers from the town of Zurrieq, you will find one of the most famous sights to see in Malta, the Blue Grotto or Blue Grotto.

As its name suggests, the cave owes its fame to the color of the water, an intense blue, which runs through it.

You can admire it from above from a viewpoint just outside the city. And you can also go to the small port of Wied Iz Zurrieq, a 2-minute drive past the viewpoint, to catch a boat that will take you closer to it. The exit lasts about 30 minutes.

Be careful to inform you before, if the sea is a little rough, there will be no boat trip that day.

In Wied Iz Zurrieq there are also bars and restaurants and a place to swim.

Go to the blue cave in the morning, it is there that the brightness is the best and that the sun illuminates the cave.
The Blue Cave, seen from the point of view.

10. The cliffs of Dingli

North of the Blue Grotto, we advise you to go to see the cliffs of Dingli .

Standing 250 meters above the sea, making it the highest point in Malta, the natural site of Dingli offers a beautiful panorama and can be the object of a beautiful stroll (while still being careful of do not be too close to the edge).

The sunsets are splendid and will delight lovers of photography.

The cliffs of Dingli

11. The Red Tower

The Red Tower or St. Agatha’s Tower is located on the ridge of Marfa, a 5-minute drive from Mellieha .

Built in 1649, along with several others between Valletta and Gozo, it served to monitor the coast and protect traders from pirate attacks. It welcomed about fifty soldiers and had 5 guns. It owes its name to the ocher color of its walls.

The Red Tower can be visited for 2 €. You will have quickly made the tour but the trip is worth it for the superb view that is offered from the top of the tower. You can see the White Tower, St. Mary’s Tower (on Comino Island) and the Lippija Tower.

Leaving the tower, continue right on the path and you can take a nice walk along the cliffs .
Red Tower Malta

12. Megalithic temples of Malta

Malta and Gozo are home to several megalithic temples, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. They were all built during the IV and III millennium BC.

Here is the list of temples to visit:

  • The temples of Tarxien located in the city Hal Tarxien
  • The temples of Hagar Qim, near the town of Qrendi, south of Malta
  • The temples of Mnajdra located 500 meters from Hagar Qim
  • The temples of Ggantija on the island of Gozo

I admit that we did not visit these temples during our stay in Malta. Most are unfortunately protected by a large white tarp and this did not really make us want by nearly 35 degrees.

Ggantija Temple, Gozo

13. The beaches of Malta, Gozo and Comino

During your trip to Malta, you will find a little time in your discovery of the island to swim and enjoy one of the beaches or cove, whether on the island of Malta, Gozo or Comino!

Here is an inventory:

  • Mellieha Bay: shallow water and fairly large stretch of sand, family beach
  • Pretty Bay: ideal with children, landscaped with playgrounds and shallow water
  • Paradise Bay: close to the ferry to Gozo, very beautiful water color but quite touristy
  • Golden Bay: large sandy beach very touristy, possibility of water sports
  • Ghajn Tuffieha Bay: very nice place, it is accessed by a staircase. Do not miss to take a tour on the left side to the amazingly shaped rock.
  • Gejna Bay: sandy beach of medium size with a nice walk to do along the sea.
  • Ramla Bay in Gozo, a large sandy beach, the ultimate family beach
  • San Blas Bay in Gozo, a pretty cove that deserves a bit because it is only accessible on foot. The hardest thing will be to go back
  • The Blue Lagoon and Santa Maria Bay in Comino, which I’ll talk about in more detail a little further down.

And for even more details on the beaches in Malta and Gozo, we have prepared our Top 25 most beautiful beaches of Malta.

14. Diving in Malta

For diving enthusiasts, Malta is one of the most popular spots in the Mediterranean. Diving in Malta means exploring marine life, wrecks and underwater caves. All while enjoying hot water, and with the greatest number of sunny days per year in Europe!

You can indulge in this activity for not too expensive and enjoy beautiful dive sites. Whether you are beginner or confirmed there is something for everyone.

The most beautiful diving spots in Malta:

  • The blue cave and its varied fauna
  • In Valletta, under Fort Saint-Elme, to discover the wreck of the Maori, a destroyer sunk in 1942
  • The wreck of the tanker Um El Faroud
  • The wreck of Mv Rozi at Cirkewwa
  • The blue hole in Gozo
  • Santa Maria Caves in Comino
Diving in Malta

15. Doing water and sports activities in Malta

In Malta, there are all kinds of activities to do, whether nautical or sports for reasonable prices.

Level nautical activities, you can do:

  • Jet ski
  • Paddle
  • Water skiing
  • Parasailing
  • Towed buoy and giant bananas.

For sports activities, we find:

  • The quad
  • The all-terrain segway
  • The horse riding
  • hiking
  • Climbing: Gozo has more than 300 routes spread over 12 breathtaking sites.
Do a little hike to Malta by the water!

16. Gozo

Gozo is Malta’s second largest island. More rural and calmer than its big sister, it offers beautiful landscapes, beautiful coves and a lot of things to do and see.

To get there, just take the ferry with Gozo Channel Line from Malta to Cirkewwa. The journey takes about twenty minutes. No problem to transport your rental car, there are many places for cars. Embarkation is very well organized and is done quickly.

On board the ferry, there is a cafeteria and a shop that sells a bit of everything (newspapers, magazines, souvenirs, food).

  • Price: for a car and 3 people, we paid 25 €.
  • Good to know: you have nothing to pay on the way, the payment is made on the return.

Once in Gozo, you will not be bored for a second while visiting:

  • Victoria or Rabat for the locals. It is the main city of Gozo and the center of the island. There are plenty of shops and restaurants, but tourists come here mostly to visit the Citadel, the fortified part of the city, located on a hill. To see inside  : the Cathedral, the old prisons, the archaeological remains and the view of everything Gozo from the ramparts.
  • The region of Djewra northwest of Gozo, famous for the Azure Window (now sadly missing), Fungus Rock (Mushroom Rock), Inland Sea and Deep Blue Hole.
  • Marsalforn, a seaside resort popular in summer but is worth the detour for its salt marshes stretching 3 kilometers long on the edge of the city.
  • The sanctuary of Ta’Pinu, magnificent church built on a small hill visible from afar.
  • The cliffs of Ta’Cenc which dive more than 130 meters towards the sea and allow to see a nice panorama. If you have a drone, this is the perfect place to burst!
  • The temples of Ggantija, which are among the most impressive and best preserved on the island
  • The beach of Ramla Bay, the largest sandy beach in Gozo. It is the family beach par excellence, it is ideal with children who will have plenty of space to play.

In our article about Gozo, we explain everything in detail: Visit Gozo, Top 10 things to do absolutely.

The Cliffs of Ta’Cenc, Gozo

17. The Blue Lagoon and Comino Island

Comino is a small island located between Malta and Gozo but its reputation is well established, thanks to its Blue Lagoon, a beautiful lagoon with turquoise waters.

Every day, boats go back and forth between Malta and Comino and between Gozo and Comino to get tourists to admire the color of its crystal clear waters and of course to swim there.

I prefer to warn you, Unless you go out of season, do not be allergic to the crowd or noise with the big boats that pour dozens of people every ½ hours and the music “beach club” that s ‘escapes.

You will have the choice between various types of day trips:

We chose to take the shuttle from Marfa, north of the island. In high season, there are about every ½ hour for € 10 round trip and the journey takes 25 minutes. These are small boats of about thirty people, and this option allows you to be free and to arrive and leave when you want.

On the return, the captain even stops along Comino to admire the different caves. By cons, expect to do a little queuing to board a shuttle back, it is often shielded.

You can also opt for a day trip on a large mini cruise type boat with more than a hundred people on board. For a price between 13 and 20 €, it will take you to Comino, you can stay a few hours, the lunch is includedand you will find all the amenities on board. But you will be dependent on the schedules.

Do not hesitate to take a tour of the island on foot to admire the beautiful landscapes, this will allow you to enjoy a moment of calm. Climb to the top of the Sainte Marie tower for a breathtaking view. Tip: if the flag is raised at the top of the tower you can climb there otherwise you’ll just admire it from below. The entrance is not paying but works on a principle of donation.

On Comino you will also find a second beach: Santa Maria Bay with a hotel, catering services and public toilets. There are a lot fewer people than the Blue Lagoon .

If you want to enjoy Comino by being a little quiet, prefer schedules before 10am or after 16h in the afternoon.
The island of Comino takes its name from the plant that grows in abundance in spring: cumin. Thanks to us you will be able to shine in society with this info of the highest importance!
Right next to the Blue Lagoon, in Comino. There are a few less people right now!

What to do in Malta with children?

Have you chosen to visit Malta with children? To change a few visits to cities or museums, here are 3 activities that will delight them suddenly.

18. Popeye village

Popeye Village is located not far from Mellieha, northwest of Malta.

This village was built from scratch to serve as a backdrop to the film “Popeye” shot in 1980 and whose star character was played by Robin Williams.

A lot of work was needed for this decoration: trees imported from Canada for the construction of houses, the creation of a road access to the bay and the establishment of a breakwater to protect the filming of the sea At the end of the shooting, he was decided to leave everything as is.

Today, the site has become an amusement park. The children will be able to get to know the characters of the film and you can even play Popeye in a small film shot on the spot of which you will be the hero. The park also offers various activities such as boat rides, shopping, trampolines and restaurants.

All information about Popeye Village: on the official website

The Popeye Village cinema set

19. Visit the National Aquarium of Malta

Since you are on an island, why not discover the wildlife that surrounds your children by visiting the National Aquarium of Malta?

Built in 2013, it is located near St. Paul’s Bay, in the city of Qawra .

The tour is very well organized and the atmosphere is successful. You can admire Mediterranean species or more typical of Malta and fish from the Indian Ocean and Pacific. The highlight of the show is undoubtedly the tunnel under which you will see the sharks and rays pass. An area is also dedicated to reptiles and amphibians.

Find information on the official website of the aquarium

In many places: hotels, souvenir shops or tourist office, you will find discounts of 3 € for the entry of the aquarium. It would be a shame to deprive yourself !
The National Aquarium of Malta

20. Playmobil Fun Park

Not many people know it but it is in Malta that you will find one of the first factories to have made Playmobil. This one is still in activity.

The Playmobil Fun Park offers children a large outdoor playground with giant Playmobil but also an indoor room allowing them to play with all existing Playmobil. Thousands of these small figurines are available.

For older children and children from 5 years, a visit of the factory is also possible to observe their manufacturing process. Be careful to inquire about the days and times of visit because it is quite limited.

And of course, a shop will allow you to choose among the multitude of Playmobil. Do not miss the Playmobil “Knight of Malta” that you will only find here.

Access information and rates at Playmobil Fun Park , here (in English)

Where to sleep in Malta: All our tips + route idea

During your stay in Malta, to avoid unnecessary kilometers, it is important to select the cities where you will spend the night.

Here is a quick guide to the best hotels in my favorite cities of Malta. I put them in order so you can easily make a nice route!

Valletta

When traveling to Malta, it’s a good idea to start by visiting Valletta, as the city is quite close to the airport. A good choice for the first 1-2 nights. This also allows you to save on renting a car, renting it after your visit to Valletta.

  • Grand Harbor Hotel : Hotel with traditional architecture, located in the city center of Valletta, just 100 meters from the Barraka High Gardens. Basic double room from 90 € per night or with view of the sea and the Three Cities for 110 €, breakfast included. Pros: ideal location, beautiful views, roof terrace.
  • Tano’s Boutique guesthouse : Hotel located in the center of Valletta, 2 steps from all places to visit. Spacious and bright double room from 115 € per night. Most: central location, quiet, roof terrace for breakfast. The best value for money in the city!
  • Grand Hotel Excelsior : 5 * hotel located by the sea, the view is really sublime! Very nice rooms from 170 € per night. Pros: The pool, the jacuzzi, the free parking, the excellent breakfast, the view, the service, and many other things that will make your stay truly exceptional! Our big favorite in Valletta.
  • Hotel Phenicia Malta : Luxury hotel located on the City Gate Square. Spacious double room, bright and tastefully decorated from € 349, breakfast € 17. Most: the infinity pool overlooking the harbor, the huge garden, the location and free private parking. It’s simply the best hotel in Valletta.

Mellieha

The town of Mellieha, located at the top of a hill, is an excellent choice to stay and visit the north of the island (Mdina, Rabat, the beaches of Gneja, Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay, the red tower, Popeye Village etc. + getaway to Comino). Allow 2-3 nights.

It is also from the north of the island that leaves the ferry to the island of Gozo, the next step!

  • Pergola Hotel & Spa : Located in Mellieha, overlooking the bay, church and village, Gozo and Comino. Studio with kitchenette equipped from 57 €, breakfast 8 €. The most: the opportunity to eat, the view, excellent service, the 3 pools.
  • Maritim Antonine Hotel & spa : Located in the town of Mellieha, 1 km from a large sandy beach. Double room huge and elegant from 77 € per night, breakfast included. Goodies: rooftop pool at the 9 th floor with panoramic views over the bay, heated pool and Jacuzzi, varied and plentiful buffet, close to bus stops to get to Valletta or at the beach. It’s our heart stroke for his performance / price ratio.
  • Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands : Located in Golden Bay, a 2-minute walk from a beautiful beach. Large double room with balcony overlooking the sea or the countryside from 150 e night, breakfast 20 €. The most: access to the beach, the view, the delicious breakfast, in summer the price includes the provision of deckchair and umbrella on the private beach.

 

Mellieha

Gozo Island

The island is rather small, and the most fun is to take an Airbnb to Victoria (the best if no car) Qala or Nadurfor example. It is recommended to avoid the towns of Xlendi and Marsalforn, concrete resorts that are really very ugly. There are really beautiful corners on the island of Gozo! We suggest 2-3 nights.

  • Guesthouse Bambina : Guesthouse located in Xaghra, 10 minutes walk from the beach. Double room with modern decoration and Zen from 40 €. Most: beautiful house with pool and beautiful views of Gozo, warm welcome, access to the beach on foot, and the price almost unbeatable. Our favorite in Gozo!
  • Casa Gemelli Bboutique Guesthouse : Charming hotel located in Victoria, the main city of Gozo. Double room entirely renovated with decoration combining traditional and modern from 70 €, breakfast included. Plus: Location in Victoria to catch all the buses, the homemade breakfast, the friendliness and the valuable advice of the staff.
  • The Duke Boutique Hostel : Establishment located in the center of Victoria. Huge and comfortable double room from 86 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the location, great bedding, the view from the roof terrace, the varied and hearty breakfast, the availability of staff, some rooms with Jacuzzi on the terrace.

Zurrieq

Zurrieq is a great place to stay for 2 reasons: The city is an excellent starting point for the attractions of the south-east coast of Malta (The Blue Grotto, The cliffs of Dingli, Marsaxlokk, St Peter’s pool etc.) and it is close to the airport.

Ideal to spend 1-2 nights before your return home!

  • Luxury Room in South Malta : Bed and Breakfast located in Zurrieq, 3km from the airport. Double room homestay, large and modern from 50 € per night. Pros: spacious room, family very available, location next to the airport and the Blue Grotto.

Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is also a good starting point before flying back:

  • Port View Guesthouse : Guest house located in Marsaxlokk, a pretty fishing village where is a very tourist market on Sunday. Modern and comfortable double room from 50 € per night, breakfast included. Most: the location by the sea, a good lunch and the perfect home.

Sliema and Saint Julien

It is the tourist area north of Valletta, with major hotels, bars, casinos, discotheques. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is the place to stay in Malta!

Here are the best hotels:

  • Sliema Marina Hotel : Located directly on the seafront of Sliema, a few meters from the ferry pier to Valletta. Spacious and beautifully decorated double room from 31 € per night, breakfast in addition to 7 €. Most: the unbeatable price, the panoramic roof terrace, jacuzzi on the last floor.
  • Palazzo Violetta : Located in Sliema, a ten minute walk from the sea. Studio equipped with kitchenette, modern, spacious and comfortable from 55 € per night, breakfast surcharge 10 €. The most: the pool, the convenient location, the comfort of the rooms. The best
  • The Victoria Hotel : A sliema, 5 minutes walk from the seaside promenade. Comfortable double room and well equipped from 99 € per night, breakfast included. Most: the rooftop pool with panoramic views, the very good breakfast, the quality of restaurants for dinner.

Where did you go to sleep in Malta?

Malta tourist map

Here is the tourist map of Malta, it is the most complete existing. I advise you to save it on your smartphone so you always have it with you! You will also find it in paper version in Maltese tourist offices.

The tourist map of Malta

Are you traveling to Malta? To read also

Check out all our articles on Malta: All Our Tips about Malta are here!

Visit Malta: Top 20 Things to Do Before You Die – 2018
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Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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